Former manager of Calderdale “community centre” accused of stealing more than £25,000

Bradford Crown Court
Bradford Crown Court

The former manager of a Calderdale parents resource centre has gone on trial accused of stealing more than £25,000 from her employer.

Elizabeth Childs, who was the full-time manager of the Mixenden centre for 17 years, has admitted stealing £2,300 from the charitable organisation, but she denies a further seven charges of theft covering a period between April 2012 and February 2017.

Bradford Crown Court heard today (MON) that experienced book-keeper Childs, 65, was paid a salary of about £27,000, but prosecutor Duncan Ritchie alleged that her debts and a gambling habit were “motive enough” for her to steal money from her employer.

Childs, of Heather Drive, Mount Tabor, Halifax, was suspended from her post in February 2017 before eventually being dismissed and an audit of the centre’s accounts uncovered significant discrepancies.

During a police interview Childs denied stealing more than the £2,300 which had been transferred into her bank account in 2016.

She told police that after her husband’s hours were reduced they fell into debt and were struggling to pay their mortgage.

Childs said she considered the money that she had taken was “a loan” which she intended to pay back, but Mr Ritchie said she had not sought permission and had made no attempt to repay it.

Mr Ritchie said the defendant indicated that some of the work was “beyond her” and she was struggling to cope.

She told the police she had recorded everything and couldn’t explain the discrepancies.

Mr Ritchie told the jury that an auditor discovered that some of the accounting documentation was missing and he alleged that there was evidence of Childs “underdeclaring” amounts.

The court heard that the “community centre”, which provided a range of activities and a nursery, had been mainly supported by a grant from the Big Lottery Fund, but it had now closed.

The trial is expected to last about five days.